By Chris Harris
Manchester United are not over-reliant on Wayne Rooney.
So says Arsène Wenger, who will try to succeed where so many others have failed this season by finding a way to stop the in-form England star when Manchester United visit Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Rooney is arguably the hottest striker in European football right now. He already has 20 goals this season and is on a high after scoring four against Hull last weekend and a late winner in the Carling Cup Semi-Final against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Still only 24, Rooney has filled the void left by last summer's departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. But Wenger knows that United are so much more than a one-man team.
"I don't think they are over-reliant on Rooney," said the manager at his pre-match press conference.
"They changed their system a little bit the other night [in the Carling Cup] and didn't play with two strikers. They played with only Rooney up front and then of course he becomes the focal point of the game.
"But they have plenty of players. For example, in the game on Wednesday night, [Ryan] Giggs was as well very influential. Rooney was at the end of things but Giggs created a lot of things in the game."
It's more than seven years since Rooney left a lasting first impression on Wenger with a spectacular stoppage-time goal that earned Everton a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Rooney was five days shy of his 17th birthday at the time and was still a teenager when he left Everton for Old Trafford in the summer of 2004. So was Wenger ever in the frame for Rooney's signature?
"I never had the opportunity to do it because very early on Man United were there," explained the Frenchman.
"Don't forget they spent £30million on him and at that time we had Thierry Henry. And don't forget I said straight away after the first game that he will be a great player."

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29 Jan 2010